Taking part in the ritual of herbal smoking, involves taking a moment for yourself, what I like to call "a mindful pause."
For centuries, herbal smoking has been a thread deeply woven into the fabric of cultures around the world, a form of communion between plants, their medicine and our breath.
I've been smoking herbs since 2016 when I was first introduced to them by an herbalist teacher. Since then I like to start this practice by connecting with the herbs: noticing their different textures, colors and scents. Then comes the ritual of breaking up the bigger pieces, the rolling, the packing, my hands know this dance and seem to move by themselves.
When fire comes into play, we're in the presence of a different kind of magic. Now the breath slows down, this allows me to savor the blend and watch it evolve.
The transformation of plants into smoke and ash when experienced through our body, resonates with us at an emotional and physical level.
Smoke carries plant medicine into our body faster than when we ingest it (as a tea or tincture, for example), and the effect is almost immediate. All the same you don't need to inhale the smoke if you don't want to. You can taste and still enjoy the benefits by drawing the smoke into your mouth and then letting it go when you're ready.
Of course every body and experience is different, but smoking herbs can ease and balance stress, support sleep, and also boost our mood. Taking a mindful pause can also help us be present with discomfort, acknowledge how we feel even when we don’t feel good, and eventually show up with a fresh perspective.
There’s a lot of thought and care put into each blend, so you can feel comfortable enjoying them!
Focusing on our breath is a helpful first step to manage anxiety: by being more present in the moment, our mind is free of the worries of the future and the regrets of the past.
“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh
The herbal blends (both as loose-leaf and pre-rolled) have become our best selling offering, especially among people who need support when dealing with stress and/or are in the process of quitting tobacco.
For this, one approach I recommend is to replace one tobacco cigarette per day with an entirely herbal one, and then maybe once you feel comfortable with that, you replace two cigarettes per day with an herbal one, and so on. This is a way to still take part in the ritual of smoking, because that’s an element that can be important to preserve while we’re going through this process. Besides simply consuming nicotine, smoking also involves taking a moment to stop and take a break. It involves fiddling with something in your hands and maybe an oral fixation like you mentioned! Or maybe it’s pretty central to how you socialize. So it can be a bit jarring for people going cold turkey in that they’re no longer taking part in these rituals.
All the same I strongly believe that every body is different, so what might work for my body might not work for you, your needs and your habits, and vice versa! But one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give in this process is to remember to be kind to yourself!
* Smoke is smoke so be mindful, herbal smoking is meant for ritual / recreational use, and to help those in the process of quitting tobacco or weaning off THC. Remember you don't need to inhale the smoke. You can taste and still enjoy the benefits by drawing the smoke into your mouth and then letting it go when you're ready.
Photos: Ray Neil and Meagan Jarvi by Madeline Harpell
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